Building brighter futures: the inaugural SASS programme strives to empower tomorrow’s leaders

The Higher Education and Leadership Management (HELM) organisation launched the Student Affairs and Student Success (SASS) programme earlier this year at the Kopanong Hotel and Conference Centre in Benoni, Johannesburg.

SASS is a national leadership capacitation programme for university staff who are engaged in the development, support and provision of services for students. The programme aims to significantly promote student success, institutional leadership and social justice at public universities across the country.

Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, executive director of Student Life at the North-West University (NWU) and president of the South African Association of Senior Student Affairs Professionals (SAASSAP), says the SASS programme will pave an important pathway for Student Affairs and Services (SAS) practitioners and professionals.

In addition, Dr Chalufu believes the programme is a substantial milestone for individuals working in professional support services with respect to the holistic development of students. He highlights that cultivating an authentic collaboration across the sector – in support of the students – will contribute towards developing well-rounded students who can play a critical role as global citizens and leaders.

After attending the launch of the programme and lending his voice as the keynote speaker, Dr Chalufu is certain that he will participate in next year’s programme. He says he could contribute by being one of the presenters, as this is an opportunity for him to share knowledge and engage with others.

Furthermore, the content of the programme will be presented in an online and hybrid format featuring local and international facilitators and speakers. The selected participants will engage in peer learning groups, research projects, coursework and mentorship.


Every public university across the country may nominate a maximum of four candidates. The second session of the SASS programme will run between April and October 2024, and the nominated staff are advised to register using the following link:, with submissions closing in March 2024.

For every selected participant, the nominating university must commit to pay an amount of R15 000 to HELM. This money will be utilised for programme expenses not covered by HELM's University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP) funding.


The curriculum of the programme is divided into four topics, with each having its own subtopics. The first topic is Leadership in Higher Education, and its subtopics range from models of leadership, management, change in complexity and institutional culture to leading teams and diversity.

The second topic is Higher Education, and it comprises policies, human resources, finance, sustainable development goals, global-local, purpose and policies of higher education, and

career development as subtopics. This is followed by the Student Support and Development topic, which consists of the student development theory, theories of support and student learning and transformation subtopics.

The fourth and last topic in the curriculum is Evaluation and Research, which includes the subtopics of assignments and case studies.

Who should participate in the programme:

· Middle and senior management

· Leadership

· Practitioners

· Administrators

· Academic and research staff

In higher education student success is fundamental, and the SASS programme will provide staff members with the skills and knowledge they need to support and engage students and institutions efficiently. Students will be empowered if those who are supposed to work with them are empowered themselves.


The class of 2023 who participated in the inaugural SASS programme.

Submitted on Tue, 12/19/2023 - 10:50